5 Things To Consider Before Buying Sunscreen: A Dermatologist’s Guide

As the Sun’s rays become increasingly harsh and damaging day after day, protecting our skin has become more important than ever. And you know what; Sunscreen is a crucial weapon in our skincare arsenal, shielding us from harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation. However, with a multitude of options available and a myriad of OTC brands, choosing the right sunscreen can be overwhelming. As a Dermatologist, I understand the importance of selecting the best sunscreen for optimal protection and skin health. So let’s get started and guide you through five essential factors to consider before purchasing sunscreen, ensuring you make an informed decision.


What is the Sun Protection Factor (SPF)?

The Sun Protection Factor, or SPF, measures a sunscreen’s ability to block UVB rays, which cause sunburn and contribute to skin cancer. It is crucial to choose a sunscreen with a broad-spectrum SPF of 50. This ensures protection against both UVB and UVA rays, which are responsible for premature aging and skin damage. Higher SPF values offer slightly increased protection, but it’s important to remember that no sunscreen provides 100% protection. Reapplication every 2-3 hours, or more frequently during extended sun exposure, is highly recommended for optimal effectiveness.


Always Check For Broad-Spectrum Protection & PA+++

When selecting a sunscreen, ensure it offers broad-spectrum and PA+++ protection. Broad-spectrum sunscreens safeguard your skin against both UVA and UVB rays. While UVB rays primarily cause sunburn, UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin, leading to premature aging and an increased risk of skin cancer. PA+++ refers to protection against UVA rays and provides the best protection amongst all the PAs available.

Look for sunscreens labeled “broad-spectrum” to ensure comprehensive protection against both types of damaging rays.


Is Your Sunscreen Water Resistant?

If you enjoy outdoor activities or plan to spend time near water, don’t forget to opt for a water-resistant sunscreen. Water-resistant sunscreens provide better adherence to the skin, even when exposed to sweat or water. However, it’s important to note that no sunscreen is entirely waterproof, and reapplication after swimming or heavy sweating is necessary for continued protection. Check the product label for the duration of water resistance and reapply accordingly.


Knowing Your Skin Type and Sensitivities Is Important

Consider your skin type and any specific sensitivities when choosing a sunscreen. If you have oily or acne-prone skin, select a lightweight, non-comedogenic formula that won’t clog pores. Those with dry or sensitive skin may benefit from sunscreens containing hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid or ceramides and gel based sunscreen works wonder for dry skin type. If you have allergies or sensitive skin, it’s advisable to perform a patch test before applying a new sunscreen to your face or body or consulting your dermatologist before buying one.


Cosmetic Appeal Of Your Sunscreen Matters

Wearing sunscreen daily is crucial, so it’s important to find a product you enjoy using. Consider the texture, scent, and finish of the sunscreen. If you prefer a matte finish, look for oil-free or powder formulations. If you enjoy a dewy glow, opt for sunscreens with added moisturizers. Additionally, some sunscreens are available in tinted or untinted versions, allowing you to choose one that seamlessly integrates into your skincare and makeup routine.


Additional Tips

  • If you want a slight coverage along with sun protection, you can absolutely go for a tinted sunscreen. It will provide your skin with a much needed even skin tone.


  • Don’t forget the 2-finger rule while applying sunscreen. Put the sunscreen on your three fingers and use it on your face and neck area. Because there’s nothing like too much sunscreen on a sunny day.
  • Don’t miss out on sun protection during cloudy or windy weather as UV rays can still penetrate your skin and cause harm to your skin. Indoors or outdoors, sunscreen is a must at all times.


Choosing the right sunscreen is essential for safeguarding your skin against the sun’s harmful rays. By considering factors such as SPF, broad-spectrum protection, PA, water resistance, skin type, and cosmetic appeal, you can make an informed decision that suits your needs. Remember to consult with your dermatologist if you have specific concerns or conditions. Prioritizing sunscreen as a part of your daily skincare routine will help protect your skin’s health, prevent premature aging, and reduce the risk of skin cancer. Stay sun-safe and enjoy the outdoors with confidence!

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Dr. Suruchi Puri

Dr. Suruchi Puri is a renowned dermatologist and cosmetologist with vast experience in the field of cosmetic, Laser and Bridal Dermatology.

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